A 27-year-old Indian-origin soldier in the Israeli army died overnight after being hit by a mortar shell near the Gaza Strip border while Israel was holding fire under a humanitarian ceasefire at the request of the United Nations.
Sergeant First Class Barak Refael Degorker from the town of Gan Yavne was severely injured in the mortar fire and later succumbed to his wounds, the Israeli army said today. Degorker, an Engineering Corps reservist, was with a group of other soldiers in an assembly zone near a kibbutz in the Sdot Negev Regional Council at the time of the incident.
Relatives of the killed soldier told PTI that his last rites will be performed today. He belonged to the Bene-Israel community, which has its origin in the Mumbai region. "He was a young cheerful man always keen to help anybody looking for assistance", a tearful relative said.
The Bene-Israel community with a strength of around 50,000 is the largest Indian community in Israel and many of its youngsters are currently in the battlefield, some operating deep inside Gaza. The 20-day conflict has killed 43 Israeli soldiers since the start of the offensive on July 8.
The health ministry in Gaza said 1,050 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed and about 6,000 wounded in the fighting.